- It felt like a good day for over/unders, so let’s just jump right in—focusing on new arrivals (both rookies and free agents)! The first number is 3.5, which will be the Over/Under for sacks by Da’Ron Payne in his rookie year. The number is deliberately set, as he only had THREE sacks while at Alabama. I think the easy bet is the under based on that, but what I think Redskins fans might see more of this season is quarterbacks trying to step up and running into Payne. At least, that is my hope. It might not sound like a big total, but interior defensive linemen don’t accumulate heavy sack numbers. Geno Atkins, Kawann Short, Malik Jackson and David Irving had 9, 8, 7.5 and 7.0 each, respectively. They were the only defensive tackles listed in the top 50 players. Of the top 50 defensive linemen in the sack category, only nine were defensive tackles, and only Michael Brockers (Rams) and Danny Clark (Packers) were listed as nose tackles with 4.5 sacks each just outside the top 50 players. The safe bet remains under, but it will be interesting to see how Jim Tomsula deploys Payne on the line. Opponents are likely going to see him in a couple of different spots, and if he gets a mismatch, it wouldn’t be crazy to think he could have one epic two-sack performance, which would give him fifteen other games to register another pair.
- I love floating out this next number, because we live in the age of possibility when it comes to passing offenses. Can Alex Smith go over 5,000 passing yards this season? To all of you who think I get a little carried away on here, you will happy to know that I am betting the under here, despite holding genuine hope on this. I have argued that an accurate quarterback (like Kirk Cousins) can load up the stat sheet in Jay Gruden’s offense. If a guy like Josh Doctson becomes a legit #1 receiver, and if Jordan Reed stays healthy for sixteen regular season games, and if Paul Richardson is the deep threat we all think he can be, and if Jamison Crowder gets into a rhythm with Smith on short and intermediate patterns, and if Chris Thompson lasts a full season, well...sure, it’s possible. In case you weren’t fully aware, Alex Smith has only topped 4,000 yards once in his career (2017), and averaged about 500 yards less per season the previous four seasons, all with Andy Reid—a guy who knows a thing or two about passing offense. Smith has thrived when the running game has been successful (which generally isn’t turned into a compliment by many people). The Washington rushing game has some pretty big question marks itself, which puts the chances of Jay Gruden producing a 5,000 yard passer pretty low.
- Alright...let’s try and bring this back to something slightly more achievable (even though Payne could get four sacks FAR easier than Smith could hit 5,000 yards passing). I want to make a number for Derrius Guice, and I was trying to imagine what a fair over/under would be for his rookie season. We always used to put so much stock in a running back getting over 1,000 rushing yards in a season, even though that translates to a somewhat paltry 62.5 yards per game. For a rookie that slid a round and a half (or so) in the recent NFL draft, perhaps we could get a bit more excited about the possibility of our guy hitting four figures in the rushing yards category. If you look at the way Guice runs, and the likelihood that he will earn the starting job, and the starter’s carries that go with that, it isn’t hard to imagine he could hit the century mark. Alfred Morris, as a rookie, dropped 100.8 yards per game to top 1,600 that season (the 200 he dropped on Dallas in the season finale helped tremendously). I think the Redskins offense will be able to squeeze out more from its passing game with Smith than it was able to with Robert Griffin III, so maybe Guice won’t need to shoulder the same kind of load Alf faced. I have Guice hitting the over. Unlike the plethora of “if’s” that Alex Smith needs to hit his number, Guice has very few: his health, and to a lesser extent, the health of the offensive line. Assuming Guice is healthy, he should have no problem getting the touches.
- If Guice is able to pitch in 65-75 yards on the ground each game (on average), we will still need production from the rest of our stable. This means that Samaje Perine (specifically) and Chris Thompson will be asked to contribute another 35-50 yards per game if we are going to consistently get over 100 yards per game on the ground. Chris Thompson is going to get his share of touches, though perhaps Guice and Perine could help minimize his between-the-tackles collisions. My next over/under deals with the amount of games Chris Thompson will play in 2018, and I am just going to set it at 15.5 games, with the idea being that he either stays healthy all season or he doesn’t. Odds are that most running backs miss time at some point, but to me a huge amount of the possibility that CT25 lasts 16 games hinges on the success Perine and Guice will have. Jay Gruden knows that handing it off to Thompson can result in a touchdown from anywhere on the field, so he will most assuredly get carries. I think the safe bet is on the under, but the optimist in me can’t bring myself to imagine the injury that will cause us the loss of the guy who has been the engine of our offense the last couple seasons—give me the over.
- When we signed Paul Richardson to the team, everyone immediately understood the way we hope he is able to be successful. His speed is clearly needed to help stretch the field and take the proverbial lid off the defense. We learned shortly thereafter that Gruden intends to employ him in ways we haven’t necessarily seen on film from his time in Seattle. One area I wonder about is the red zone—not because I think Richardson is likely to take the place of a Doctson or Reed, or even a Vernon Davis, but because I feel like that is something opposing defenses might not be looking for from the Redskins. Is it possible that Richardson could provide a reliable target for Alex Smith in the red zone? We know that Smith hasn’t exactly thrown an endless amount of touchdown passes to wide receivers. Doctson stands to be the guy I would be looking for if I’m Alex, but that can get tough when people know what you like. What would a good over/under be for Paul Richardson in the red zone? I was thinking a number like 3 total red zone touchdowns. If I’m not mistaken, only one wide receiver caught more touchdowns than that last season—Tyreek Hill. As you can imagine, Tyreek took a number of them to the house from well outside the red zone. I will take the under here as well. I mostly thought a conversation about a receiver we have not spoken about in a month would be refreshing now that we have run the draft into the ground.
- We have also beat up the schedule pretty good, so I thought I would throw out an inside-the-schedule over/under: 2.5 wins in the NFC East. The defending Super Bowl champion Eagles are going to be tough. God, I hate watching Carson Wentz operate. The ability of our front seven will be tested more in this game than in any other divisional game—including the pair of times we will face Saquon Barkley. Eli Manning always seems to have our number, and the Dallas Cowboys have managed to lean on their offensive line against us in ways that make their wins seem easy at times. In order to hit the over here, we HAVE to get one against the Giants, and we HAVE to get one against the Cowboys. I feel like asking the Redskins to take down Philly isn’t the hardest request in the world...but let’s just say that gamblers aren’t lining up to bet that money line. For me to bet the over here, I am counting on a split with either the Cowboys or Giants, and a sweep of one of them. I think we can do that.
This week’s Sixpack serves up a series of over/unders for the 2018 Washington Redskins season.